Barring any additional saltwater flooding, vegetation in these areas will recover during the next growing season, but this winter, waterfowl will find considerably less food in Louisiana’s coastal marshes than in a typical year. As a result, it’s possible that some species like mallards, teal, and pintails will spend more time in southwest Louisiana’s rice fields. Other ducks, particularly gadwalls and divers that rely on marsh habitats, may redistribute to other wintering areas in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, Texas coast, Mexico, and Latin America.
Fortunately, waterfowl are highly mobile, an adaptation that serves them well given the highly dynamic nature of the wetland habitats upon which they depend. This adaptation is one reason Ducks Unlimited works to conserve wetlands in a number of historically important wintering areas across North America so that waterfowl populations will never be limited by winter habitat conditions.
Dr. Tom Moorman is director of conservation planning at DU’s Southern Regional Office in Jackson, Mississippi.